Lilly Singh skipped grad school and made millions on YouTube

Lilly Singh: Find happiness and you'll find success

Lilly Singh's YouTube channel, ||Superwoman||, is aptly named.

Singh has more than 8 million subscribers and 1 billion views on the video sharing platform. Last year, she raked in a cool $2.5 million, making her one of the world's highest-earning YouTube stars. Her feature-length movie, "A Trip to Unicorn Island," was one of the first originals distributed on YouTube Red, the premium version of the platform.

Singh's success hasn't gone unnoticed. She's won a Streamy Award for best first person series in an online video, and in 2015 she made both the Forbes 2016 30 under 30 list and People's 2015 Ones to Watch list.

Although being a YouTube star seems like a glamorous new media career, Singh's steps to success are steeped in classic methods that could be applied to any other industry. Her No. 1 piece of advice is that entrepreneurs shouldn't wait for something to fall into their lap.

"There's no escalators, there's only staircases to success," she said. "There is no substitute for hard work."

Lilly Singh at #YTMeetup at Skylight at Moynihan Station on April 29, 2015 in New York City.
Stephen Lovekin | FilmMagic | Getty Images

Like other YouTube stars, Singh essentially operates as a one-woman production company.

"I'm my own boss, my own editor, my own shooter, my own writer, everything," Singh said, adding that she didn't even know how to use a camera when she started.

"This is all stuff I learned through trial and error ... failing at a lot of things has taught me how to succeed at them eventually ... you roll with the punches," she said.

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Before she was a YouTube success story, Singh was working on an undergraduate degree in psychology and planning to apply for a masters program in counseling, despite her lack of enthusiasm for the subject. After discovering YouTube, she uploaded a video on a whim and loved it.

"For the first time in so long I did something I enjoyed and I loved. That feeling was so refreshing, so I kept doing it simply because it made me happy. It made a sad person happy," Singh said. Since she decided to make YouTube her career, Singh has thrown herself into the deep end.

"Now I can work from morning to night on 'Superwoman' and it's OK. I had two hours of sleep last night. I've done four interviews today," she said. "I'm constantly working, but it doesn't matter because I love it so much, and you need that type of obsession and passion to be successful at it."